Daniel Sommer Preachers in the Restoration Movement Send Them Out as Evangelists
Many years ago, I knew one of the rare "evangelists" still existing in the world - Brother J. C. Bunn. He died in Seattle Washington at about the age of 95. He had been establishing churches for 80 of those years. He received his training at Nashville Bible College (Lipscomb) and went through the midwest into the northwest.
He had been close to Daniel Sommer and in Indiana he was still called a Sommerite. One thing that he learned from Brother Sommer was that "every church which has a man who can preach: Send him away--let him go forth and proclaim the unsearchable riches in the regions beyond." And Brother J. C. Bunn did just that.
Brother Sommers quoted from Acts 20:28. "Take heed therefore unto yourselves and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood." This language of Paul to the elders of Ephesus is an illustration or sample of the scriptures which enable us to believe that the flock or church of God at Ephesus was presided over by a plurality of bishops or overseers. The "church" is spoken of--not churches--and yet "overseers" are spoken of, showing that there were more than one.
His conclusion was that only the elders should be the feeders and watchers over the flock.
"But the Church at Ephesus, which was well established and was of size and strength, had a plurality of overseers whose business it was to feed the flock and watch over the flock and care for the flock. As all the other testimony of the New Testament is in harmony with this which has just been considered, I again say that we CAN believe and SHOULD believe that a plurality of bishops, at least for every church needing that many, was the original, divine order.
Daniel Sommer detested the "imported, one-man, preacher-pastor established over the flock." Asked why he believed that he noted that:
"In the entire Book of God there is not one fragment of TESTIMONY in favor of the imported, one-man, preacher-pastor as the feeder and watcher over the flock after it had been gathered and established. Therefore, there is no one on earth who BELIEVES that such an arrangement is according to the divine will. That arrangement originated with apostate Rome, and from Rome was borrowed by the Protestant denominations, and from them has been borrowed by a certain class of disciples who are determined to be like other folks and be in the fashion.
Brother Sommers saw the preacher's "business is to gather a flock, establish it and then move onward, or visit a church, proclaim the truth for a season, forewarn the brethren against all manner of evil and false teachers and move onward. Paul and Barnabas, I have sometimes thought, were a little inclined to pastorate at Antioch. The Church there was well established and no doubt it was a pleasant place to remain--good company and good eating. Not much danger there of missing a meal in traveling. As Acts 11:26 informs us, that they assembled a whole year with the church in that place. But the Holy Spirit said, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them." Then the brethren unto whom such revelation was made fasted, prayed, laid hands on them and SENT THEM AWAY. (Note: it should be noted that the time in Ephesus resulted in the gospel being preached in the whole province. Therefore, central headquarters is not a located position)
That is what J. C. Bunn did.
We should note that God scattered the people, especially those equipped to preach, out into all the world:
Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. Ac 11:19
And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. Ac 11:20
and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul
met with the church and
taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. Ac 11:26
Antioch was not a congregation but a city. Paul never went to "church houses" as a located minister. It was Paul's custom to work when the prospects worked and preach when they did not have to work. When others supported Him he was free to move out of the "house." He taught throughout the province. For instance,
This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. Ac.19:10
And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. Ac.19:26
Now these provincial Jews and Gentiles did not assemble at 9:30 Sunday morning so the preacher could do his poney and cart show.
Daniel Sommer said and J. C. Bunn followed the Biblical model:
"every church should do with every man who can preach. Send him away--let him go forth and proclaim the unsearchable riches in the regions beyond. Of course it is more pleasant to remain at home if he have a good wife, and if she be a good cook and a good housekeeper, yet
as certainly as that he is worthy of being called a preachers
he should be sent AWAY with the benediction, blessing and support of the church.
"That this is the divine will we CAN believe and SHOULD believe without doubt, because we have the divine testimony to that effect.
But to believe that the preacher should settle down upon an established congregation
and locate himself and do the work of feeding intended to be done by the overseers--to believe this is UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE,
because there is not one fragment of testimony to that effect. There may be INFERENCE and thus OPINION or SUPPOSITION, but there can be no FAITH, and whatsoever is not of faith is sin." (Sommer, Daniel, An Address, 1899 Sand Creek)
The Old Testament, Jesus and Paul disqualifed the clergy and demanded that there was not a single competent man on the globe competent and honest enough to teach others without straying off in the spiritual watering holes of the world. To teach us individually Jesus gave us His Word which He defined as Spirit and Life. Click for other notes on this topic. Restoration Movement Index